Productivity and GTD
Time as investment
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." ~ Carl Sandburg
Virtually, all the projects you want to perform in your life will require the utilization of time and money. Both resources are often limited and usually shared by all your projects, so it’s necessary to manage them with good judgement to make the most of them.
One of the features of money is that it can store and retain value in itself. That is, when you create something of value through your labor and then convert it into currency—by selling it or getting wages for it—, it retains the value of your work even when its effect has finished. This means that money is much more tangible and, therefore, easier to handle.
We tend to think that time doesn’t have this feature. Time passes. You use it or lose it. Almost agreed but, as with money, you can just spend it or you can make an investment, that is, you can use it in a way that it stores some value in itself and pays interests later.
Think about how you can use your time to create value, to help saving more time in the future. For example, if you are a programmer and spend some time doing quality tests (not everyone does it), then you’ll avoid wasting so much time fixing problems and explaining them to your customers. If you have an Internet business, creating a FAQs page (Frequently Asked Questions) will save you much time answering the same questions to a lot of customers. If every month you have to go to the bank to pay a certain bill, spending 10 minutes for automating the payment is time well spent.
In general, anything that involves automating tasks is time well spent. Reading, learning and taking classes on something you use every day is also usually time well invested: you’ll be able to do it faster and better, which indeed will save you even more time in the future.
Of course, I’m not saying that spending time in fun or entertainment is wasting it. Far from it, spending your time evenly in different areas of your life is an excellent investment, necessary for you to function properly, as eating or sleeping.
The inverse of creating value is creating debt. It happens when you do things that obligate you to do other work unavoidable in the future. For example, if you set up a meeting with a client in a vague way, doubts and discussions will arise, and the expected 30 minutes meeting will become a 2 hours. If you build a website with a rigid structure, the day it gets a lot of traffic you’ll have to spend much time changing the whole structure of the site to make it scalable.
Think about all the things you do often and how you can do them better or faster (or stop doing them). Use your time wisely. Try to create value and avoid generating any type of debt. Make your time a valuable asset.